Catalonia falls into that deliciously saccharine category of local acts that includes, among others, Secret P.E. Club, Humbert, and Map of the Universe. Its base is solidly built on the sonic foundation of American garage, Britpop, psych-pop, and jazzy bossa nova. Operating as a foursome on this recording (currently a trio but just as full sounding), Catalonia's debut full-length, An Island Is Land, is a well-constructed 11-track effort covering the range of influences a young band will have. The Pixies, Elliot Smith, Hüsker Dü — it's all here — but so is Catalonia, and you'll get to know them well. The craftsmanship of its songs forego any thoughts of amateurism, as these guys handle their instruments and songwriting with authority. The opening digital attack of synthesizers guided by the drum cadence on "Symbiot" provides a succinct guideline for what follows before romping into the funkier tune "Free Ride." Three-quarters of the way in, Catalonia's hooks and melodies, supported by a tight rhythm section, command a slowing of the pace. Evan Rowe's vocals are carefree and have plenty of range. The closing trio of "Somebody Else's Dream," "How Will You Know?," and "Dispossessed" work well together as a finale, with the band pulling no punches on the last track. Chris Horgan's strings and keys add playful dimensions and ambience, while drummer Ed Malone gels well with Kevin Brauss, giving all tracks — get this — a danceable feeling. Yup, all that crazy talk of rock music you can dance to is true. Catalonia brings the sounds; you bring the ass to shake.
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